E-bikes and Electric Vehicles
For decades, COSCA's trails have been a shared resource among the hiking, biking, and equestrian communities. Together, we have achieved a good safety record and respected the natural resources found along the trails. With new electric technology and vehicle types evolving at a rapid pace and blurring the lines of our traditional user groups, it falls to all of us to consider our record of safety and sustainability by observing some limitations as they relate to electric vehicles. Here is the lowdown on electric vehicle use on COSCA Open Space along with some frequently asked questions.
Summary: The only electric vehicles permitted on COSCA open space are Class-1 e-bikes and certain mobility devices for those with physical constraints to trail access. Others are prohibited to prevent damage to trails and natural resources, and to ensure public safety on shared multi-use trails.
FAQ's - Electric Vehicles
- What is an E-bike? COSCA recognizes e-bikes as they are defined in the CA State Vehicle Code. These are described in the graphic at the top of the page, and there are three classes. Vehicles not conforming to these definitions are considered motor vehicles. Only Class 1 e-bikes are permitted on COSCA trails. The vehicle code link above describes use restrictions for all three classes on public roadways.
- What is an "Unclassified" E-bike? Many vehicles marketed as e-bikes do not meet the definitions of Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes. For example, they can be configured to travel over 20mph on throttle-only or have powerful motors exceeding 750 watts. Some of these are capable of high speeds and are more similar to a motorcycle, and may or may not have operating pedals. Vehicles with a motor exceeding 750 watts of power, not requiring human power, vehicles without operable pedals, and all vehicles having a throttle are considered to be motor vehicles, and are prohibited on COSCA's trail system.
- Why are unclassified E-bikes and electric motorcycles prohibited? We have no doubt that these vehicles are fun to ride, and when ridden in appropriate areas, can be operated safely without damaging protected lands. However, higher powered vehicles create more torque, and this causes more extensive wear on trails that are located in protected open space. The results are rutted and eroded trails that require more repairs. Managing 150 miles of trails is already a tall order for COSCA Rangers without added trail damage. Erosion also affects areas adjacent to trails and degrades natural resources that COSCA is charged with protecting. Lastly, COSCA's trails are shared with hikers and equestrians (and other cyclists) and the speed, weight, slower braking, and relatively low noise of more powerful electric vehicles make them a safety hazard for other users.
- What about my electric one-wheel device or electric skateboard? Electric unicycles, hoverboards, scooters, and skateboards are not permitted on COSCA trails. These are considered motor vehicles.
- How do I choose an electric bike for COSCA trail use? The best way to be sure you are getting a compliant e-bike is to purchase one locally through one of our fine local bike retailers. Ask them to recommend a Class-1 e-bike or e-mountain bike, and let them know where you intend to ride. Their employees will know what you need and they can also help keep your e-bike maintained to prevent down time. This handy buyers guide will also help you find the best e-bike for you and the places you want to ride.
- Where can I ride a high-powered electric vehicle not meeting the Class-1 definitions for an e-bike? This varies by vehicle type, jurisdiction, and road or path surface. Generally, Class-2 e-bikes can be ridden on streets, designated bike paths, bike lanes, bike routes, and protected lanes. Class-3 e-bikes are restricted to streets, bike lanes and bike routes. There are no local areas where higher powered unclassified e-bikes or e-motorcycles can operate legally off road on public land. The closest area to ride these vehicles off-road is the State Vehicular Recreation Area at Hungry Valley. Before purchasing an electric off-road vehicle, be sure to learn where it can be legally ridden.
- How can I help build a cooperative trail community on my e-bike? What fellow trail users notice more than your bike is the manner in which it is ridden on shared trails. A little courtesy can go a long way, and we know our equestrian, hiking, and biking communities appreciate cyclists that are mindful of the safety of others. Find some great mountain biking etiquette tips HERE. Our wildlife also appreciate cyclists that remain on official trails and avoid creating new trails that damage their habitats.
Planning a group hike? If you are interested in visiting COSCA open space with a group of 25 or more individuals, reservations are required (COSCA Ordinance, Section 226). Reservations are available by contacting the Conejo Recreation and Park District -- click to call 805-495-6471.